25th October 2005




The everyday lives of people living in Lincolnshire during the 1940’s will be revealed during a guest lecture by Dorothy Sheridan, the Archive Director of the British social research organisation Mass-Observation.

The organisation was founded in 1937 by three young men who recruited a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers to study the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.

They went into a variety of public situations: meetings, religious occasions, sporting and leisure activities, in the street and at work, and recorded people's behaviour and conversation in as much detail as possible.

The material they produced is a varied documentary account of life in Britain up until the early 1950s. The Archive is now housed in the University of Sussex Library and has formed the basis for hundreds of books, articles, TV and radio programmes.

Recently the BBC screened a documentary entitled ‘Little Kinsey’ revealing the results of Britain’s first ever sex-survey carried out by Mass-Observers in 1949.

In 1981, the Archive initiated a new project under the direction of Dorothy Sheridan, which set out once again to involve people in the recording of everyday life.

Volunteers from all over Britain write anonymously about their lives, observations and opinions on particular themes in response to open ended questionnaires called 'directives'.

Through local and national newspapers, and later through radio and television, the Archive has recruited a new panel of volunteer writers, known as "Mass-Observation correspondents", from all over Britain. Since 1981, around 3,000 people have taken part, and some 400 people write for the project today.

Dorothy Sheridan will talk about the historical material and describe her current projects at a free public event on Friday 28th October at 5.30pm in the Jackson Lecture Theatre. The lecture is part of this year’s Lincoln Academy series produced by the University of Lincoln.


For more information contact:

Kate Strawson, Assistant Press Officer, (01522) 886244.